Most employers in California are required by law to provide you with workers' compensation benefits if you suffer a work-related injury or illness that puts you out of work. But what if the company does everything it can to avoid its responsibilities in the name of saving money?
According to a report in Reveal News, California-based automaker Tesla systematically works to keep workers at its Fremont plant from making rightful workers' comp claims. The company is accused of tactics ranging from manipulating a doctor eager to get onto Tesla's payroll to simply refusing to hand over basic forms to injured employees.
Injuries, requests ignored
If a worker believes they have sustained a work-related injury, they are entitled to a form called a DWC 1, which the employer must provide within a day of learning about the injury. But former Tesla employees told Reveal News that after their work accidents, supervisors and HR representatives ignored their efforts to get a DWC 1.
A former staff member at Tesla's factory clinic says she was ordered to treat every worker who came in as needing first aid only, no matter how badly they were actually hurt. Workers who do not receive treatment more extensive than first aid are not entitled to a DWC 1 form.
Doctor who denied work injury later hired at Tesla
In addition, the new head of the factory clinic appears to have gotten the job at least in part by cooperating with Tesla to deny claims that injuries were work-related. When the doctor formerly ran a nearby clinic, he and one of his physicians gave into pressure from Tesla's workers' compensation department not to sign off on benefits for a worker who suffered an electric shock on the job, according to a former staff member.
Tesla subsequently began referring workers to the clinic for tests. In June, the doctor was hired as head of Tesla's in-house work injury clinic.
Stories like this one make it clear how difficult it can be for injured workers to receive their rightful benefits in California without the help of an aggressive and experienced workers' compensation attorney. If you were hurt on the job and are having trouble getting approved for benefits, consider speaking with a lawyer.